(Image: The Calling of St. Matthew; Caravaggio)
Eric Sammons is one of my favorite writers here at 1P5. As a guy who has worked full time on diocesan evangelization efforts for many years, Eric’s style is approachable yet informative, but he’s not afraid to talk about the difficult truths.
So I’m excited to share the news with you that Eric has taken 18 of the 20 essays he’s published here and turned them into a book, entitled Be Watchful: Resist the Adversary, Firm in Your Faith. (Bonus points if you catch the reference there…)
On his website, Eric describes how the book came to be:
Ever since I became Catholic in 1993 I’ve been actively involved in the Church, mostly through evangelization work at the individual, parish, and diocesan levels. I’ve met thousands of Catholics and worked with hundreds of priests, even a few bishops. Much has changed in the Church in those twenty years, some for the better, some for the worse. But one constant has remained: the Church has been in crisis.
Sober reflection on the state of the Church should render this statement uncontroversial, but for most interested parties it is a highly debatable claim. It’s difficult to judge our contemporary situation as dispassionately as we judge times past, for we don’t know how to weigh the importance of current events by any unbiased standard. For example, faithful Catholics might critique a long-dead pope without qualms, while those same faithful Catholics will find it exceedingly uncomfortable to censure a living pontiff.
However, the numbers speak volumes: the modern Catholic Church has been hemorrhaging members for decades, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Church in the United States (see my article “How Great We Aren’t: The Catholic Church in America Today”). Many factors have led to our current situation, but one thing that isn’t helping us escape the crisis is our inability to be self-critical.
Too often, today’s Catholics mirror the subjects in the fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Something is amiss, we all know it deep down, but none of us wants to be the one to mention it. We’re afraid we’ll be labeled “reactionaries” or some other epithet. Or we’re afraid that our criticism will appear to be a criticism of the Holy Spirit, whom we know guides the Church (see “The Holy Spirit is Not a Control Freak”). Like it or not, in order to fix our current problems, we must first acknowledge them. This is part of the commission St. Peter gave us when he instructed, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Being watchful means recognizing when our adversary, the devil, is succeeding at keeping souls from Christ. A watchman who doesn’t cry out in a time of crisis is useless.
The articles contained in this book comprise my own attempt at this kind of alertness. They address some of the issues the Church faces today, mostly focusing on attitudes and issues I have seen firsthand that harm the Church’s ability to spread the Gospel to the whole world. My call for self-criticism doesn’t mean I don’t see good things happening in the Church today. Every day people are receiving forgiveness in Confession, souls are being baptized, and Jesus Christ is becoming sacramentally present on altars all around the world. The work of the Holy Spirit in the Church never stops, and today is no exception. But we must strive constantly to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to make His work present to the whole world and to acknowledge when we aren’t doing so.
These articles were written over the last two years for OnePeterFive (onepeterfive.com), a website dedicated to “rebuilding Catholic culture and restoring Catholic tradition.” OnePeterFive, in fact, takes its name from the passage I mentioned above. I’ve appreciated OnePeterFive’s willingness to “be watchful” and be honest about the state of the Church today. This has come with some controversy, but I’d rather have free, open discussion than have some topics considered “off-limits.” I believe there is a need for an apostolate like this today, and I hope that my own articles, originally found at OnePeterFive and now found within this book, help us all to “be watchful” and to rebuild Catholic culture and restore Catholic tradition.
If there’s someone in your family or among your friends who is ready for the “red pill” but needs to be transitioned from status quo to crisis mindset by expert, cautious hands, this is the book for them.
There’s still time to get it before Christmas from Amazon, and the price can’t be beat, so don’t wait!